Does Retinaldehyde Provide The Benefits Of Retinol Without The Side Effects?

by Gio
is retinaldehyde more effective than retinol

Lately, I’ve been cheating on Retinol with its cousin, Retinaldehyde.

I know, I know. But, hear me out before judging me.

I first met Retinol in my mid-20s. It promised to help me fight those pesky crows’ feet that were already starting to creep up around my eyes and keep wrinkles away. What could I do but fall in love?

But retinol isn’t the gentlest lover. Yes, it keeps its promises, but it can be so irritating. Flaking, stinging, redness… you go overboard a little and you’ll regret it.

Retinaldehyde is gentler. It fights wrinkles as well as retinol, but it doesn’t leave you with a red, peeling face.

What can I say? It knows how to win a girl’s heart.

Here’s why you should consider making the switch from Retinol to Retinaldehyde, too:

antiaging ebook content upgrade

Best Anti-Aging Tips!

Antiaging ebook

Sign up to receive my short ebook, "5 Best Anti-Aging Tips To Keep Your Skin Young".

No spam. Just awesome skincare tips. Powered by ConvertKit

What The Heck Is Retinaldehyde?

Retinaldehyde and Retinol belong to the same family: Vitamin A.

To work their magic on wrinkles, they both have to be converted to Retinoid Acid, the active form of Vitamin A.

Retinaldehyde just happens to be closer to it. It’s converted in one step whereas Retinol takes two:

Retinyl palmitate > Retinol > Retinaldehyde > Retinoic acid

As a rule, the closer a form of Vitamin A is to Retinoid Acid, the better and faster it works.

P.S. Retinaldehyde can be converted to Retinol too.

P.P.S. Friends call it Retinal.

Can Retinaldehyde Fight Wrinkles?

Yes. Retinaldehyde is a form of Vitamin A and all forms of Vitamin A have some effects on wrinkles.

The real question is: how well does Retinaldehyde do the job?

A 1999 French study tested a Retinaldehyde 0.05% cream against an emollient cream without Retinaldehyde. The results were clear. Retinaldehyde make skin thicker and more elastic. 

A study conducted by Dr Boisnic went a step further and researched the effects of a 0.05% Retinaldehyde cream on sun damaged skin. The results were impressive: “in all UVA-exposed and then Retinaldehyde-treated skin specimens, collagen and elastic fibers were restored to the level of nonexposed skin. It has been shown that Retinaldehyde has many of the properties of Tretinoin” in treating photo aging.

Retinaldehyde does this even better than Retinol. According to a 2006 study, 0.05% retinaldehyde is as effective as 0.05% retinoic acid for the treatment of photoaging. In comparison, retinol is 20 times less potent than tretinoin and it requires further conversion to retinoic acid (in vivo)”.

medik8 crystal retinal 6

Can Retinaldeyde Fight Acne, Too?

Vitamin A doesn’t just fights wrinkles. It fights acne, too. Retinaldehyde does the job particularly well. Here’s why:

Is Retinaldehyde Gentler Than Other Forms Of Vitamin A?

Retinoic Acid, the active form of Vitamin A, is irritating as hell. That’s why it’s available by prescription only.

OTC forms, like Retinaldehyde and Retinol, are gentler. But, as you well know, Retinol can still make your skin flake and peel if you use too much too soon or if your skin is sensitive.

Is Retinaldehyde as irritating, too?

A German study compared the irritation potential of both Retinaldehyde and Retinol and concluded they are both gentler than Retinoic Acid. 

But, they both can still cause some irritation. You may want to start slowly with Retinaldehyde, too.

antiaging ebook content upgrade

Best Anti-Aging Tips!

Antiaging ebook

Sign up to receive my short ebook, "5 Best Anti-Aging Tips To Keep Your Skin Young".

No spam. Just awesome skincare tips. Powered by ConvertKit

What Are The Best Skincare Products With Retinaldehyde?

And here comes the catch. Retinaldehyde is still the underdog of antiaging. Not many brands are using it. Here are a few exceptions:


The Bottom Line

Retinaldehyde is an underrated antiaging superstar. It busts wrinkles and gets rid of acne without irritating your skin. If you find other forms of Vitamin A too harsh for your skin, you may want to give it a go.

Do you use products with Retinaldehyde? Share your faves in the comments below.

Take The Guesswork Out Of Skincare Shopping

Screenshot from 2017 04 30 11 51 35

Get access to the “Pro Skincare Library” for exclusive skincare routine “cheat sheets” and tricks to help you navigate the beauty aisles jungle like a pro and immediately know what to pick off the shelves to achieve the gorgeous skin of your dreams - even when you’re drowning in an endless sea of skincare products.

Powered by ConvertKit



Makeup Morsels August 10, 2011 - 5:41 am

Really interesting post, as I’ve used Retinol in the past to combat acne, but always had to apply it on/off, as it would start to seriously dry out my skin at times. Retinaldehyde sounds pretty promising, have you tried it?

beautifulwithbrains August 10, 2011 - 8:32 am

Makeup Morsels, Retinaldehyde may be a better option for you then. So far, the research is very promising indeed. Unfortunately, I haven’t tried it yet. I’ve been looking for products containing it lately but I haven’t come across them yet. I guess that’s cos I live in a small city and not many brands are available here. But as soon as I find one, I’ll buy and review it straight away. 🙂

Lynn Chapman November 18, 2016 - 7:49 pm

A stabilized form of retinaldehyde is available from a new skincare company, The product is called Dragone D’Or Super Stimulator. You can but it online. The company has a 20% discount offer because it is new. Also there are impressive before + after pics for crows feet, wrinkles, discoloration + redness. It has 28
5 star reviews and is patent-pending. I’ve been a retin A user all of my life but like this MUCH better. My skin is incredible and I don’t have the redness of the retin a. Worked really well for my wrinkles + crows feet too!

Susanna January 2, 2018 - 7:26 pm

Hi Gio-

I am curious to know the what 2006 study you read that stated retinaldehyde is as effective as retinoic acid at .05%? I am looking for that study! : ) Any name or link would be very helpful and very appreciated, thanks!

Gio January 19, 2018 - 4:18 pm Reply
Sally Hue August 19, 2018 - 12:16 am

Great article. There’s a huge amount of talk on IG about Medik8 Crystal Retinal. Wasn’t on your list so I thought it was worth posting here. I am about to buy as I’ve had amazing results with their retinols. And your article mentions some of the same studies they do. Can’t believe more isn’t out there with retinaldehyde.

Gio September 7, 2018 - 1:45 pm

Sally, I think I wrote this article before Crystal Retinal came out so that’s why it’s not on the list. But I’ve reviewed it here:

I wish more brands used retinal too but it’s so difficulty to stabilise, many prefer to stick to retinol.

Anna October 18, 2018 - 11:07 pm

So retinal and retinaldehyde are the same thing, is that right?
But closer to retinoic acid than retinol? That’s my understanding.

Gio October 25, 2018 - 1:39 pm

Anna, yes that is correct.

retin a survivor February 25, 2019 - 11:39 pm

retinaldehyde also modulates tha amount of retronic acid the skin can absorb at one time.

Gio February 28, 2019 - 6:21 pm

Retin A Survivor, that’s good to know. Thanks for sharing.

CKJ March 11, 2019 - 6:52 pm

You can also purchase Retinaldehyde in 3 different strengths from Avene, if you’re in Europe it’s very cheap, no more than 25 euros. ( Ystheal) I believe in the US and Canada Avene also sells it, but it’s much more expensive. Cheaper to order from an online European pharmacy, UK, France, Netherlands.
I’ve been using it for 3 months, started 2x a week and a month later i’ve moved to 3x a week. No irritation and am seeing results with photo ageing and wrinkles.

Gio March 15, 2019 - 3:47 pm

CKJ, that’s wonderful, thanks for sharing. 🙂

Jeff March 15, 2019 - 11:30 pm

is it more stable than retinol????

Gio March 16, 2019 - 12:36 pm

Jeff, yes it is!

Mo February 3, 2020 - 9:11 pm

Hi, I was wondering if I can use Avene retinaldehyde once a week and retinol twice a week? I’ve been using PCA Skin brightening retinol and like that it has niacinimide and resveratrol.

Gio February 8, 2020 - 7:49 am

Mo, why do you need two retinoids? Save your money, pick one and use it every other day (or less, if that’s too much for your skin).


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.